Arumuga Navalar (1822- 1879)

Discussion in 'Hindu Saints' started by garry420, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Arumuga Navalar was born in Jaffna to Brahmin parents. Sri Lanka at this time was under British rule. Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam were suffering greatly under the rule of a foreign oppressor. Hinduism and Buddhism were falling to the power of Christian missionaries, who were trying to eliminate the original religions from the island. It is in this dark era that Arumuga Navalar was born.

    Being born in a highly erudite Brahmin family, Navalar studied in a Christian missionary school to learn English. In addition to his studies in English, Navalar’s father was a Tamil poet, who taught Navalar Tamil literature at a very tender age. Navalar proved to be an excellent student. In fact he made such a mark that his principle, Peter Percival, requested that he stay and teach Tamil and English in his school. Percival later requested Navalar to translate the Bible and various Christian Literature into Tamil. Navalar happily accepted. In this action he proved that he was in no way a fanatic, and tolerant of others people’s religions.

    During this time, American Missionary Seminary at Batticotta decided to incorporate the Skanda Purana into its curriculum in order to convince its students to convert to Christianity. The fact that Christians translated the purana from poetry into prose further aggravated the Hindu populace.

    The activities of the missionaries began to escalate the religious climate in Jaffna. Muttukumara Kavirajar a great Tamil Poet began writing many works attacking the religious imperialism that the Christian missionaries created. He wrote the famous Yesumataparikaram attacking the missionaries. By September 1842, a large number of Hindus started a school dedicated to teaching Hinduism and start a printing press to end the educational monopoly of missionaries. They called this school the Veda and Agama School.

    Although Navalar was apathetic to the Hindu cause originally, he began to study the Christian Bible and eventually left it, preferring to utilize the spirituality of his own people. By the year 1848, Navalar quit his job and began studying Agama Literature and Sanskrit. He started offering free and informal classes about Shaivite Literature.

    Navalar in 1849 set out to Madras to acquire a printing press. While in Madras Navalar began writing many of his great works including the Saundaryalahari, in praise of Devi. Navalar also began writing literature refuting and defending Hinduism against allegations by missionaries.

    Having acquired a printing press, Navalar began to publish vast amounts of work. He eventually wrote ninety- seven publication, among which twenty three were his own original pieces. For the first time ancient Tamil works were published by Navalar thanks to his acquired printing press. Navalar almost single-handedly started a Hindu revival amongst the Tamils of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. His publishing of ancient work preserved endangered works. He wrote in the fashion that any Tamilian could comprehend his writings. He established many schools all over Northern Sri Lanka to teach and preserve Hinduism. Navalar remains a champion for Hindus in Eelam and Tamil Nadu.

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